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Sight: Web content indexing the hard, user-unfriendly way

Mark Gibbs | July 31, 2014
Startup Landscape Mobile's Sight app uses screenshots to bookmark content but isn't well-designed or convincingly more efficient than other methods.

The summary screen shows how many articles you've "sighted" as well as giving you some stats about your ranking in "sighting" the article and how many people have followed you but I can't say these metrics give any useful insight into your social reach.

The configuration screen, revealed by touching a gear-like icon on the summary screen, allows you to enable or disable various settings. The first setting is whether to auto-analyze new screenshots, the next is whether to enable background analysis, and the third is whether to allow notifications when articles have been analyzed. 

The second setting is interesting because it uses iOS's geolocation change notification API to trigger background processing (location changes are notified to all applications that have registered for callbacks for geolocation changes). The Sight app, of course, doesn't care about geolocation at all and just uses this feature as a an opportunity to process screen captures.

But when you enable background processing the option disappears from the settings page! This is ridiculous. There's no guidance that the option ever existed and therefore no guidance on how to disable the feature should you want to (sure, you, a techie, know how to do this but consumers, who are very much the target audience, will not).

There are also a number of other options in the configuration panel such as rating the app, providing feedback, social media following, etc., that aren't that interesting. According to the company:

The day that the team came up with the idea for Sight, they pulled an all-nighter to get the first version prototyped. The designers and front end engineers then created many iterations to make the app simple and elegant, while the backend engineers built out a series of smart systems to find and bring the best matching articles to the user. Now that Sight is ready we're excited to present it to the world, and see how it helps users collect information more easily and efficiently.

There's something else that Landscape does that annoys the crap out of me when any service provider or app does it: They don't ask you to confirm your password; they give you one shot at setting your password without allowing you to see what you've typed so if you, like me, suffer from having banana-like fingers and you miskey your intended password you won't know until you try to log in after which you'll have to go through the tedious whole password reset process.

This might all sound harsh but the team should have taken their time rather than rush an "all-nighter" because what they've produced is naive. Moreover, as I wrote above, I'm not convinced of the need for this app given the existing tools for saving URLs; despite the company's claims, images are not a better or more efficient way to access and catalog Web content (in my first few attempts the app returned a completely - not slightly - wrong page for the screenshot I saved. I have no idea if this is as common as the roughly one in twelve failures I experienced ... I ran out of patience).


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